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09/25/12 Nik software has been purchased by Google…….Whats up with that?

Nik products HDR efxpro and colorefx pro

Nik products HDR efxpro and colorefx pro

Over the past weekend and during the big Photokina show in Cologne Germany, Nik software announced that they had been purchased by Google.  The assumption here is that Google is wanting to use the Nik control point technology in some of their apps.  As a huge Nik user in my work, this concerns me as what tends to happen in situations like this is that the company that makes the purchase will absorb the smaller one and then the products are taken off the market.

Nik has several really key products for photogrpahy:

Color Efex Pro, HDR Efex Vr. 2, Define,  Viveza, Silver Efex Pro are the main products that I use but there are more in the product suite.  I noticed today that Nik has the information on their website talking about the merger/takeover by Google.  My recommendation is that make sure that all of your products are current via the upgrade process.  Nik has been very good in the past in keeping their product set current with both enhancements and bug fixes.

Only time will tell what Google decides to do, but I would not bet on Nik staying in the mainstream very long.  This will give on-one a boost as they have several products that overlap the Nik product suite.


09/20/12 Update–10 groups/14 elements Phase One Schneider 28mm Leaf Shutter Lens–Update

Just a quick note, I have heard some new feedback on the this lens.  It seems that it has the exact same number of groups and elements as the older Mamiya 28mm F4.5 lens, 10 groups and 14 elements.

Phase One/Mamiya has done this before i.e. banding a D (digital) brand on an older design and not changing anything on the inner workings of the lens.  The most notable example of this is the 35mm F3.5 D lens.  About 1 year ago, Phase One announced that they were coming out with a “D” version of the older Mamiya 35mm AF lens.  This lens has been a tried and true performer in the medium format stable for Mamiya but is also noted to be not very sharp in the corners even in the F8 to F11 range.  I personally have used this lens since 2008 and worked with several different versions and never really found a good one.  Mine were always sharp in the center, but faded to very soft in the corners and even showed a bit of detail smearing.  However the corner performance of my 35mm Mamiya F3.5 always was better then my example of the Mamiya 28mm F4.5.  (see my earlier post for a bit more feedback on this lens).  These issues are considerable worse with the more modern IQ-160 and IQ-180 especially the later.  I tested my 28mm Mamiya on a IQ-180 and was amazed to see just how bad the sharpness falloff was towards the corners.  With the IQ-160 I was able to recover most of the corners by F16 but I felt that I was starting to lose overall sharpness due to diffraction.  One of my main reasons for moving to a tech camera was the dismal performance of both the Mamiya 35mm F3.5 and Mamiya 28mm F 4.5 on both my Phase P45+ and later my Phase IQ-160.

If Phase One/Mamiya/Schneider only changed out the housing and add a leaf shutter to the existing 28mm Mamiya, then that will be a big disappointment.  There has always been a huge hole in the wide angle lens range from Mamiya since their current 28mm F.4.5 does not have that much performance in the corners especially in the F4.5 to F8 range.  I had assumed that since Schneider was involved that this new version of the 28mm F4.5 would be a total rework.  My first concern was when I noticed that even after the leaf shutter was added, the lens was still an F 4.5 lens.

Only time will tell if this is a total rework or just a new housing/re-badging of an older design. I hope that it’s not and instead this lens will shine! as it has been a real necessity in the Medium Format non Tech camera world.

09/17/12 Big Phase One news announced today at Photokina–New DF+ body and Schneider Kreuznach 28mm LS f/4.5 Aspherical lens

Phase One DF+ Body

Phase One DF+ Body--Click on image for a larger view

Well it’s a big day for Phase One, as they finally announced a new version of the rather long in the tooth 645DF Medium Format Body.  Based on the reactions I have read to this announcement it seems that most photographers were disappointed with this announcement as they were looking for more from Phase One.

Outwardly the 645DF+ looks just like the older 645DF body, however from reading the announcement it seems that there are some significant improvements over the older DF body.

  1. Phase One has incorporated a new Lithium Ion battery pack in the new body which replaces the older battery clips that took 6 AA batteries.  This same pack is available for the older DF body and has been for about 6 months now.  If you purchase the DF+ it is now included.
  2. AF micro adjustment.  This has been referred to some as being able to shim your digital back to the body.  However I strongly doubt that there is any shimming being done, instead just some form of AF micro tuning just like Nikon and Canon have had for years. This is first for a medium format body that I know of and it the solution works as well as Nikon or Canon it could be significant.
  3. All types of internal improvements.  I love this.  How do you figure out what was “improved” unless you take it apart!.  Some things I could think of that needed improvement are the current AF design, Mirror slap, battery life, Metering to mention a few. But if the body was reworked/hardened to some extent this should be seen as positive.  I have been hard on my DF and it still works as it’s supposed to.
  4. The ability to use the Leaf Shutter lens at up to 1/1600 of a second shutter speed. This is possible with the older DF bodies.  It seems also that Phase/Mamiya did not fix the single biggest issue the internal shutter.  If you use the leaf shutter lenses, you still have to fire the internal shutter and the mirror.  This brings back the same problems as before, mirror slap and vibration when using certain lenses at certain shutter speeds.  This mainly seems to be a problem with the telephoto lenses but many folks were hoping to see a solution that allowed the internal shutter to be left open when using the leaf shutter lenses.

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Updated 08/10/12 Nikon D800 Left Focus point issues–Much ado about nothing? some more thoughts

Due to several readers comments I have added some updates to the bottom of this post.  Depending your shooting style this may be more serious than it is to me.

Since the Nikon D800 and D800E have been announced, one issue that seems to come up over and over is the Left Focus Point on some cameras is not accurate.  The amount of variance seems to vary from a huge amount of difference to just a bit off.  This difference seems to be most often compared to using the center focus point.  The auto focus system on the Nikon D800 is the same that is in the D4, yet it only seems that people using the D800 or D800E have problems.

I have used a D800 now for about 2 months. I was aware of the issue regarding the Left focus point but went ahead and purchased the camera.  I would have been much more concerned if the problem was coming from the center focus points as I tend to use them much more often then the left points or right points.  In fact I can rarely think of a time in my 30 years of landscape shooting where I found that I needed to have the left focus point utilized instead of the center.  I am sure if was working on a very selective scene or a portrait shooter who was working on a off center subject, the left focus point my be important.  However I still don’t see the reason for people to be trying to test it, post pictures of it, write up complaints about it, or feel that for some reason that they were wronged by Nikon.

With my D800, I feel that the center focus point is very accurate enough so that I rarely go back and check focus on the LCD unless I am working a smaller subject like a bird or wildflower.  For landscape wide-angle shooting I am very comfortable with just using the center focus point and then setting up the shot.

There are a few things that people may not be considering before they get upset with the fact that their left focus point is off.

  1. For a lot of my work, still or moving I will use the “auto” AF mode, not the single.  I have found that over time the auto AF setting brings more total focus points in to play and seems to give a more accurate focus.  Note, that when shooting a smaller subject in DX mode, i.e. a bird or animal I will drop back to the center focus point only and take the “auto” setting off.
  2. With a 35mm full frame camera when shooting a landscape there really is not that much difference in subject matter from the center focus point to the left or right.  There is a lot of empty space in the viewfinder that is not covered by any focus point.   So when shooting a traditional landscape at say F8 or F11 where I am working with a hyper focal distance of infinity at 400 feet to 10 feet, the center focus point is a better tool to use.  At this focal range, if you have the center in focus then surely your left and right will also be in focus, or your lens is out of calibration.
  3. If you feel your left focus point is not accurate, and you are concerned that the left side of your composition needs to be in critical focus, then simply move the camera over to the left, place the center focus point on that part of of the image, get your focus and then turn the lens off of AF or use AF lock.  I feel this is actually faster then taking the time to move the active focus point all the way to the left, with the command dial.

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